Day 4! Speeding along, aren't we? Since Art's a handful and a bit, I thought I'd be a bit nice to his poor dad in this story. He really deserves it!
Dance to Date © Billy London
Christian did wonder how he had a full head of hair, considering the trauma his eldest son insisted on putting him through. Art was a law unto himself. And if Art wanted something, he’d get it. Whether that was a place in halls in London, or living with Christian instead of his mother, just to wind said mother up, he was a young man very used to getting his own way. Art really wanted Patricia Lawson, and there truly was nothing to stop him chasing the girl.
Christian had an idea his son harboured feelings for his ex-wife’s niece. Her name seemed to crop up a little too often for it to be coincidence. He confirmed his suspicions when Art, getting his rowing uniform washed with a free washing machine and drier, rushed to make himself look presentable.
“Oi, aren’t you going to deal with your laundry?” Christian demanded, while Art brushed his hair into submission.
“Nah, I’ve got better things to do.”
“Mum’s left Patricia with the Golden Child.”
“And what’s that got to do with you?”
“Plenty,” Art threw back. “Now, I’m going to chase down a woman.” Art shrugged on a coat and gave him a dismissive look. “Give it a go.”
No, he’d had enough of women for a life time. Watching his wife engage in a three-year affair, with a man married to a talented and connected sex-bomb, then having to drag said wife to court for money, as she’d left both children with Christian to deal with.
His youngest son, Adam bundled down the stairs. “Come on, dad, let’s go!”
Oh Christ, the school dance. Having never dealt with anything similar during his school years, he found it rather distasteful to distract the children in the middle of a term with something as vacuous as a Valentine’s Day dance. Christian reached for his coat and patted down the pockets for his car keys. No. That cheeky son of a... Art had stolen his keys. He angrily snatched up his phone while his fourteen year old waited impatiently by the door. “Arthur Christian McWorth, you get your skinny arse back here with those keys.”
“Sorry dad,” Art didn’t sound a mite phased by his father’s fury. “I need to be able to get Patricia home. I have a feeling that mum’s going to be wasted when she comes back. She’ll be in no condition to drive her and at this time of night, I’m concerned for my potential girlfriend. She can’t get the bus.”
Insidious little... “And what about your brother?”
“He wants a girl too! He’ll understand!”
“When’s your mother due back?” Christian asked, struggling to contain his temper.
Art made a sound that he translated as I don’t know. “It’s about half eight now. I told her to get back in the next half an hour I can take Patricia out for dinner.”
He had to be kidding. “Arthur!”
“I’m cutting your allowance,” he snapped, ending the call with a vicious press of the screen.
Adam commanded. “Dad just call Jules.”
“Jules. She’s Chloe’s mum. She’ll pick us up. She’s chaperoning too.”
Brilliant, brilliant boy. The joy of having the numbers of all the parents in his son’s class made all the difference. Chloe’s mother, Jules happened to be a sharp, relatively patient, working divorcee. He hadn’t at all noticed that she was single, or that she was a bit too good looking for her own good.
When he called, she made all the right noises of sympathy only to say, “I’m already here Christian. I wish you’d called earlier.”
“Sorry, I didn’t know my degenerate son was going to rob my car keys.”
“Get the bus, and when the dance finishes, I’ll drop you back home. Deal?”
“I really appreciate it.”
Sighing in impatience, he picked up the house keys and walked with his son to the bus stop. Adam stuffed his hands into his pockets and shook his head at Christian. “You need to be tougher with Art. He gets away with so much shit.”
“Don’t say shit.”
“It’s true though.”
When they finally arrived, the party was in full swing, Rizzle Kicks blasting in what doubled as their gym, streamers and hearts raining from the ceiling. Adam shrugged off his coat, and pointed at him. “Don’t embarrass me. See you later.”
He disappeared into the throng of the party with his friends. Standing in the gym awkwardly, he saw Jules handing out glasses of pink lemonade and followed her welcoming smile like a gingerbread trail.
“Isn’t this fucking awful?” Jules confided, handing him a plastic cup.
She looked gorgeous, shiny curls pinned in a forties style matching the high necked shift dress and polka dot heels.
“It’s not great,” he agreed taking a sip of the lemonade. “How are you managing?”
She double tapped her phone. “Kim Kardashian phone game. Spending the five pounds a week child support I get.” She saw his facial expression change and explained, “What else will I do with a fiver?”
As a man terribly burned by his ex-wife’s miniscule payments until he took her to court, Christian was probably one of the only men who’d agree with her. “I used to have a shop in Waitrose on the money I got. Once a month. Just because I knew she’d see my bank statements and it’d piss her off.”
Jules grinned and held out a cup to his to toast. “To pissing off our exes.”
He put down his cup and asked honestly, “No plans for you tonight?”
“Just keeping an eye on my pride and joy.”
He followed her gaze to her three children, all with a year between them, dancing in the centre of the gym. They were more than old enough and cheeky enough, if their mother was anything to go by, to put off a range of ‘discerning males’. Give it a go, Art told him. What could it hurt?
“Do you want to go out? Make up for it?”
Jules’s perfectly arched eyebrows arched even further. He hurriedly explained. “I mean my eldest son, he owes me a favour. So he could keep an eye on the pride and joy and we could have a quiet drink. Or meal. Fuck it’s a meal isn’t it? I’m so out of practice.”
She put a hand over his, warm and reassuring. “It’s a drink. Or a meal. Or whatever you want it to be. Given I am fed up of the sight of my kids for a weekend, whatever would be properly lovely. Thank you.”
He took another sip of his lemonade, ignoring the shakes of excitement that rattled the ice cubes in the cup. Look at him. Chasing down a woman...